Austin Reaves has made a habit out of showing up for the Los Angeles Lakers when the moment demands it. He did so again on Tuesday in the In-Season Tournament quarterfinal victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Reaves made a number of big shots, the biggest of which came in the final seconds in the form of a step back three-pointer that gave L.A. a four-point lead with 15 seconds remaining.
That shot effectively iced the game for the Lakers, securing their spot in the semifinals against the New Orleans Pelicans in Las Vegas. It was a part of a big night for Reaves, who finished with 20 points on 7-for-16 shooting and was a game-high plus-17.
Reaves sees it as a combination between his faith in himself and his teammates’ faith in him that allows him to be this type of player on the biggest stages.
“I just trust myself and trust the work that I’ve put in,” Reaves said. “I looked over and Bron was pointing towards me. AD had the ball and flipped it to me and set a ball screen and at that point, there’s nothing else to do but go make a play and made the shot. We go home happy.”
After Reaves hit the final 3-point shot, he let out an emphatic scream and flexed for the Crypto.com Arena crowd. He spoke about what that moment was for him.
“Honestly, I think my eyes were closed. I don’t even know if I was actually flexing. I was just yelling, and yeah, like I said, every game I play is the same. I want to win regardless if it’s the In-Season Tournament or not and it was a good ballclub that we had to fight off in the second half, and we did just enough to win.”
When asked if being a big-shot maker is a new role for him, he said that he’s always felt comfortable stepping up, especially when his teammates have faith in him to do so.
“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Reaves said. “I feel like even going back to high school before that, if there was an opportunity to tie a game or win a game, I wanted the ball in my hands. And now just being around such high-level players, DLo, Bron, AD, you go down the list, but for them to have trusted me to give me the ball in that situation that empowers me more. So feel like I’ve always had that.”
The Lakers are going to continue calling Reaves’ number in big moments, as he has proven time and time again that he is ready to step up. Reaves’ ascension to this caliber of player is part of why L.A. opted to not go star chasing this offseason and instead focus on building a quality roster. Reaves is proving that roster construction right.
Reaves discusses controversial timeout call
The final seconds of Tuesday’s game were marred with a bit of officiating controversy when a timeout was granted to LeBron James and the Lakers when it appeared as though Reaves may have lost control of the ball. He spoke about the moment from his perspective.
“I thought D-Book ran into me, and it was late-game, and I don’t know if they were trying to foul or what, but there was no call, and obviously, Bron made a high-IQ play he’s probably done a million times in his career and called timeout. I don’t really know if it was a foul or not. But we had a timeout and… they didn’t have any timeouts. And KD had to take a long three. He missed, and we won.”
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